Tibet's present, Taiwan's future

The brutal suppression by armed police forces of the People's Republic of China of peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa and other cities in Tibet in recent days has shocked the world, including the citizens of our democratic society.
The PRC has claimed that the turmoil was the result of political plotting by the "Tibetan separatists" led by the exiled Dalai Lama, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and has declared martial law.
Naturally, with the blockade of personal travel and information from Tibet, the power to interpret what is happening there is totally controlled by Beijing.
Many international powers, media and international human rights organizations have appealed to the PRC regime to respect Tibetan culture and the free will and human rights of its people.
But such appeals are likely to fall on deaf ears in Beijing, especially since there is no structure through which such concerns can have genuine influence.
Hundreds of Tibetans are reported to have been killed in the worst unrest in Himalayan society for two decades, almost all certainly killed by Chinese armed police forces.
Most Taiwan citizens are likely to believe that the PRC suppression in Tibet is "regrettable" and "unfortunate," but not closely related to Taiwan and certainly not a high priority and indeed rather remote compared to our current presidential election.
They could not be more wrong.
Unfortunately, the fate of Tibet and what is occurring in Tibet now have direct and pressing relevance to Taiwan precisely because its current fate may well be our future.
The Chinese Communist Party-led PRC regime has followed four steps in its subjugation of Tibet, which long used to be an independent kingdom ruled by a religious aristocracy, whom did, indeed, as claimed by PRC propagandists, imposed a backward and oppressive feudalist system on the majority of the Tibet population.
Nevertheless, what ultimately happened in Tibet was a tragedy for both the Tibetan religious elite and the vast majority of the "oppressed" which the CCP claimed to be "liberating."
In 1951, the PRC forced a "peace agreement" upon the Dalai Lama led Tibetan government; in 1959, the PRC's People's Liberation Army moved forces into Tibet, followed by massive encouragement of immigration of Chinese into Tibet and the rising Sinification of Tibetan culture and, finally, the co-optation of the Panchen Lama as a Beijing puppet.
Right to decide
Could this happen in Taiwan, with our democratic political system and our modern society and culture?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Indeed, this process may have already started and may accelerate after the March 22 presidential election if Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou wins and returns Taiwan to the "China-centric" rule of the "formerly" authoritarian "Chinese Nationalist Party," which remains the KMT's official name.
The first step has already been taken in the form of the "party to party" forums between the KMT and its former bitter enemy, the CCP, initiated by KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan and PRC State Chairman and ruling CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao, who ironically was lifted to high office after a repressive term as governor of the "Tibet Autonomous Region."
The prospect of PLA entry into Taiwan is implied in the Anti-Secession Law enacted by the PRC's National People's Congress on March 14, 2005, under which Beijing gave itself the "legal authority" to use force against a Taiwan that refused "peaceful unification."
The process of Taiwan's assimilation into the PRC may be spurred by Ma's advocation of a "cross-strait common market" with the PRC, one of the agreements of the Lien-Hu dialogue of April 2005.
Last but not least, Taiwan may find that its elected president could well turn into a virtual puppet or "chief executive" if Ma fulfills his campaign promise to "return" to the so-called "Consensus of 1992" and promise to accept "political integration" as a precondition of restored "consultations" with Beijing.
Of course, the fundamental reason why Tibet was open for PRC intimidation, occupation and suppression under Beijing's new hegemony lies precisely in the fact that it stood alone against its far more powerful and massive northern neighbor.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
It should, since Ma's notion of a "cross-strait common market" and his declaration of intent to follow "three noes" of "no unification, no independence and no use of force" posits that Taiwan will face the PRC alone without involvement by the international community or negotiation of such an agreement to end hostilities.
And only the election of Democratic Progressive Party president nominee on March 22 together with the passage of the referendums authorizing our application to join the United Nations will allow the 23 million Taiwan people the right to have a voice to express their resolve to control their own destiny and refuse the fate of Tibet.